night photography

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In November 2020, I was out trying to photograph the full moon and unfortunately, clouds had a different idea. The moon was completely covered and I was just standing in the cold with my camera and 70-200mm on a tripod. I could have gone the next night when the sky would have been clear but I just was feeling so discouraged that I didn’t want to. This had been my 3rd month in a row where I wasn’t able to capture the moon. So I wanted to do something that would keep me motivated to go out and shoot.

Right then and there I came up with an idea that I should rent the biggest lens I can find. LOL.

So after discussing this idea with a few friends, I finally decided that I’d rent a 200-600mm lens. This would bring a whole new view to the city that I couldn’t even imagine. I rented it from lensrentals.com and I could not have been more excited that it actually came 3 days earlier than I had expected. So I had 10 days with the lens and I was pumped!

My first real test came on an afternoon at the Washington Monument. It is actually the same exact place where I came up with the idea to rent the lens so it’s funny that this was the first place that I want to go to test it out.

I was blown away!

The compression on the lens is CRAZY. These people were at least 20 feet away from me. The US Capitol is about a mile away from the Washington Monument. But if you asked me, it seriously looks like you could just reach out and touch the people.

It was on!

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In an effort to push me out of my comfort zone and try something new, I did something that I never thought I would ever do. I left my house around 8:45 pm and drove all the way to the Shenandoah Mountains ALL BY MYSELF AT NIGHT! 

I’m not sure what got me to do this but I was just craving a new challenge and just a different type of photography than I’m used to. I say that I thought I’d never do it because I never thought I’d have the courage to go into the mountains all by myself AT NIGHT. I don’t know about you, but I get freaked out about all these animal noises I’ve never heard before. But luckily, I pulled myself through it and I am so excited to go back again for another round!

I captured these at the Jeremy’s Run Overlook (I THINK), just a few overlooks away from the Thorton Gap Entrance into Shenandoah Park. Since I got there at night, it was pretty difficult to find out a foreground element. My first idea was to try to get myself in the image. But figured it would need more light, so I had to coordinate my interior car lights with my cellphone acting like I was taking a picture of the milky way with my phone. It was a fun experiment but moved on to the most obvious foreground in front of me, this crazy branchy tree.

night photography, shenandoah national park, tree, branches, virginia, skyline drive, milky way, stars,

I am very happy with the way both of these turned out. I think in all my years of photography, I’ve only tried to capture the milky way a hand full of times. I was not so confident with my focus, but in the end, I think it turned out pretty good. *pats on the back

My camera setting for the self-portrait is F2.8 at 3.2 seconds at ISO 3200 with my Sony A7II and 35mm lens. My camera settings for the tree image are F1.8 at 13 seconds at ISO 3200 with my Sony A7II and 35mm lens.

Also, some exciting camera equipment upgrades coming soon 🙂

 

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Taken at the same time I captured this image, this was one of the first I captured from that evening.

I love how the tree branches are framing the Washington Monument. It sort of gives the whole image a creepy feeling.

I’ve heard some people say that they don’t like photographing in the winter for the exact reason, but I think photographing the trees with bare branches gives it a totally different mood that can be beautiful as well. What do you think?

Obviously photographing it in spring or fall would give it more color, but you may not be able to see the framing because of all the leaves.

My camera settings for this image are F7.1 at 2 secs at ISO 250 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide-angle lens on a tripod.

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I captured this image on the same night as this image but it was also a few days after I captured this one. I obviously still have the same composition in my head but I wanted to see what it would look like during this beautiful foggy evening.

So I set up my camera the exact same way as the previous image and just waited for someone close to the Washington Monument to walk by. It took a while because it was oddly quiet for 8 pm at the National Mall, but still, I waited. I was so concentrated on finding a person in the background that I didn’t even notice a person was about to walk in front of me to create an even bigger shadow. I love the way that it turned out, especially since you can see the reflection of both shadows in the water puddle.

Now I want to know, which image do you like better? This foggy one or the image I captured early morning?

My camera settings for this are F4 at 1/30th sec and ISO 8000 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide-angle lens.

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So the next morning, I obviously had to wake up to check on the fog again. 

Luckily, I got to the Tidal Basin early. The fog really seemed to have rolled in overnight and you could barely see the Washington Monument anymore. I love how even though its dark on top, the sunrise colors are still shining through. Or maybe that’s just the light pollution from the city. Either way, I love how it came out.

I’m also glad that I went early because they actually start turning off the Washington Monument lights about 30 minutes before sunrise too. As soon as they turn it off, it’s almost like a dark monster in the air. It’s hard to see and even harder to photograph.

My camera settings for this image are F4 at 1 sec and ISO 320 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm zoom lens.

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After a full day of rain, Andrew and I randomly decided to just go out to eat dinner. Weekdays we usually stay in and eat at home but Andrew got some good news so to celebrate, we went out. As he was finishing up some work, I was checking on the weather. I saw that we had a dense fog warning so I decided to bring my camera “just in case”.

Dinner was great. Dessert was even better. So after we were done, I suggested that we should go to the Mall to see what it looked like. I parked by the Monument and it was actually Andrew’s first time being so close. It was so weird because I had been there a million times. LOL.

Anyways, as we were walking back to the car and I decided to take one more look at the monument and I noticed that the fog and lights were creating this really cool shadow alongside the Washington Monument. I had to capture it. It was very cool to see.

My camera settings for this image are F4 at 1/30th sec and ISO 5000 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide-angle lens.